The year of a man who’s been around a while

Today the Treasury will likely publish fiscal figures less rosy than those Bill English managed into a “surplus” at budget time. Last week John Key took us another step from free nation to fearful huddle. English is no macho-politician. In … Continue reading

When houses are bad for the economy

When a tumbledown bach with a modest view on a modest section is “valued” at $640,000, up 36 per cent from 2011, that suggests an economy seriously out of kilter. Land and house “values” are wildly out of whack whether … Continue reading

Election in a bubble

Colin James to the Victoria University post-election conference, 3 December 2014 DRAFT – MAYBE SUBJECT TO ADJUSTMENT The 2014 election came 30 years after the 1984 election which triggered a tectonic shift in policy, ideology and our understanding of ourselves. … Continue reading

The big Little start to Labour’s rebuild

Can Grant Robertson count? Will Jacinda Ardern stick it out? What does an Andrew Little smile look like? Where does a theology degree fit in politics? Does any of this matter? Plenty think Labour is mere amusement or an historical … Continue reading

(Not) changing the climate on climate change

Here’s a foreign policy issue the government wishes would go away: climate change. Most other governments wish it would go away, too. They will nonetheless send emissaries to Lima in Peru for 12 days of talks from next Monday. Lima … Continue reading

A tale of two parties’ “internal contradictions”

The imperial President of China flies in tomorrow. The Labour party anoints its new leader today. What links the two? Xi Jinping is China’s most powerful leader since at least Deng Xiaoping and maybe since Mao Zedong. He has centralised … Continue reading

Who will be first to the frontier of thought?

Early this year Australia’s Treasurer, Joe Hockey, introduced Bill English to G20 finance ministers as the man they should talk to learn how to do public service reform. Hockey could have added other English-driven changes, such as fiscal consolidation, pursuit … Continue reading

A part of the government gets more assertive

Topping the list of officials’ post-election briefings to incoming ministers (BIMs), is, for the first time, a BIG — a briefing to the whole incoming government by all chief executives (CEOs). But is it actually to the whole government? The … Continue reading

Security matters: Key’s ups and downs

John Key is both increasing and decreasing security. Which security matters more? The security Key is increasing — or aiming to — is about beheadings and bombings and a clash of civilisations and religions. The security Key is decreasing is … Continue reading

The gerrymanders and National’s 2017 constraints

Parliament is back in business with National in charge to a degree not seen since first-past-the-post “parliamentary dictatorship” days — thanks to three successful gerrymanders and one failed one. Two of the successful gerrymanders were National’s contrivances to get its … Continue reading